Clarence Flowers Sr1918
Clarence Flowers Sr. was born in St. Catherine, Jamaica. He went to war for the British Royal Navy from 1941 - 1945 and returned to the Cayman Islands to find Flowers in 1946.
Clarence starts his first small business. He acquired a Bedford Truck, which he used to transport passengers and cargo.
In 1946, Clarence gets his first concrete block machine with the idea of building a house for his future wife. His first machine was a manual hand machine with a maximum capacity of 90 blocks per day.
First Block Machine1952
Mr Clarence gets his first block machine. A "general engine machine" with the capability of producing 200 blocks per day.
New Block Plant1958
Mr Clarence gets a new block plant, another "general engine machine", with a new capability of producing 400 blocks a day.
Another upgrade to the trucks including a new flatbed for block and aggregate transport. He also acquired his first dump truck "contractor's tilt".
Growing Construction Demands1962
With growing construction demands, Clarence gets yet another block plant with the capability of outputting approx. 2000 blocks per day.
Model 8 Machine1966
Clarence upgraded to a model 8 machine that produced 8 blocks a minute, or approx. 4000 blocks a day
Super 22 Plant1972
Flowers upgrades to the first "Super 22" plant ever used in the Caribbean. Production capabiltiy was 6,000 blocks per day and staff of approximately 12 men.
Flowers Air Dispatch Services (FADS)1974
Clarence finally branded his airport operation "FADS" (Flowers Air Dispatch Services) which had grown to include baggage handling and security.
C.L. Flowers & Sons Ltd. was started in 1946 by Clarence Levi Flowers, M.B.E. This year the company celebrates its 60th anniversary. CL Flowers Ltd. is one of the oldest Caymanian owned and operated businesses.
Throughout the years CL Flowers & Sons Ltd., which later formed “The Flowers Group”, has diversified into a myriad of businesses primarily run by Mr. Clarence’s three sons, Frank, Richard and Clarence Bradley. The Flowers Group now umbrellas everything from concrete block manufacture, to polystyrene products, bulk and bottled water, aviation security and baggage handling and various real estate developments such as Cricket Square. However, CL “Clarence” Flowers started from very humble beginnings. He came to the Cayman Islands at the age of 13, in 1931 as a migrant Jamaican worker. Starting as a yard boy for the Merren family, even from then Mr. Flowers dreamed of success. His philosophy was simple, and at 88 this year, it is still the same: to be successful you have to foresee a need and supply it before anyone else, and you have to be the best.
Full of ambition and youth, Mr. Flowers was ready to take on the world. But, during a time when his young life was just starting to flourish, the world around him was deteriorating as Germany and Britain went head to head in World War II. Whether it was youthful compulsion, or patriotic duty, Mr. Flowers joined the Trinidad Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve to serve for His Majesty’s defense.
Leaving Cayman as a boy, Mr. Clarence returned from the war as a man. Thus began his transport business. At that time, the planes coming to Grand Cayman were seaplanes that landed in the North Sound. Mr. Clarence acquired a small boat, and used it to transport bags and people to land. He also made sure that transport was available on land. In 1946 he had one of the first truck transports on the island. He would take goods and cargo out to the far reaches of the island, and return with people who wanted to get into George Town to shop or visit.
Since he already owned a truck, it seemed like a natural progression that when people wanted Mr. Clarence to transport water to fill their cisterns, he loaded a water tank on the back of his truck, and the Flowers Water Transport Company was born.
With his small companies blossoming, by that time, Mr. Flowers needs had changed; now almost 30 years old, he wanted to marry his sweetheart, Jen Hinds of South Sound. As a young Jamaican immigrant who came from poverty, he realized the importance of having a good home for his wife. The common buildings of the day were mainly made of flimsy wood or archaic wattle and daub; structures that would often succumb to any sort of heavy storm winds or be compromised by the smallest fire. Mr. Clarence decided that, for his beautiful fiancée, he would have to build a better house; the people of Cayman needed housing that was evolved, hurricane resistant and dependable. Thus began the Flowers Block Empire.
Mr. Flowers started with a simple manual machine that spit out one block at a time and could make a maximum of 90 blocks per day. He would manufacture the blocks, in the mornings and evenings after working in his transport business. Mr. Clarence would pump out the concrete blocks until he was so exhausted he could barely stand up. “I can’t remember sleeping during those days, between the transport and making the blocks for my house, I would be up some nights until 2 or 3 am and back on the road at 5.” But his hard work paid off, and by the winter of 1952 Mr. Clarence not only had a solid house, but a loyal partner is his new wife. Maybe it was his pretty wife or what was called the “strongest house on the rock” but Mr. Clarence’s crazy blockhouse idea began to catch on, and pretty soon every one wanted a concrete blockhouse.
Soon the demand for the blocks far superceded the capacity of his little one block per rep machine and Mr. Flowers was forced to expand his operation and his family, which welcomed three hearty boys that would soon find there own niches in the business. In the early 60’s, with his wife by his side, Mr. Clarence borrowed against his current business and upgraded to a two-block general engine machine, which could produce 2,000 blocks per day, by the end of the decade he upgraded to a Model 8 Columbia, which was semi automatic. By now his sons were starting to grow up and also put in long hours in the factory to help the business grow and expand. Cayman was becoming a rapidly developing country and during this time, Mr. Flowers began to see needs in other areas besides just construction.
By the 70’s his sons were grown up and Mr. Flowers and his family were ready to take on more. When the Governor’s Harbour development began, Mr. Clarence was a founding member of the Cayman Water Company which was formed to provide water and remove sewage. Since Cayman was prime to become a tourist destination, Mr. Flowers was instrumental in pushing the Cayman Water Company to extend piping down the road to seven mile beach, thus providing fresh water to the beach, giving the tourism industry a much needed boost. During this time, Mr. Flowers had still maintained his connections with the airport from his boat transport days in the north sound, and seeing the need for a proper baggage handling company and aviation security team, he capitalized on the opportunity. Meanwhile, realizing the potential for major property developments in George Town, he started buying real estate with a mind to develop in the future. By the 80’s Mr. Flowers was beginning to take a back seat as his sons took over much of the everyday running of the companies.
Richard now runs the bottled water operation which had its beginning some forty years ago with Mr. Flowers using his truck to transport bulk water to the outer districts. Frank remained with the blocks, and some six machines later, in 1990 he upgraded to the Columbia 1600 the most modern block machine to date, which can make up to 40,000 concrete blocks a day, and is still the show piece block manufacturing plant for the Caribbean. Like his father, Frank has also seen the need for something that has not been provided in these islands, Insulated Concrete Form, a form of polystyrene construct that is popular in North America for its insulation qualities and strength and durability in adverse weather conditions. Frank also oversees the Aviation baggage handling and security aspects of the company. Clarence Bradley has taken the property development aspects leaps and bounds, with such huge commercial projects as Cricket Square.
Some sixty years after its inception, C.L. Flowers & Sons Ltd. has expanded and become successful primarily through one man’s singular vision that has been passed down to his family. Mr. Flowers still has his pretty wife and wonderful family, including two grandchildren, Frankie Jr. who has focused his drive and talents towards the film industry, and Dara who is finding her niche within the Flowers Group of companies. Talking to any member of the family, one realizes how much Mr. Flowers’ drive and dedication has infiltrated and inspired all of their lives. As Frank Sr. comments, “My Father always taught me that the most important thing in business is to have foresight, be honest and be the best, with that combination and a bit of luck, you can do anything. I still live by that mantra, and to this day, in sixty years, even after hurricane Ivan, the Cayman Islands has never run out of our concrete blocks and we have never compromised the integrity of our product, that’s a testament to my father and the business ethic he has instilled in all of us.“
Mr. Clarence Flowers is truly an inspiration not just to his family, but to the people of Cayman that he has touched and continues to touch through his tireless drive and exceptional vision.